Google Maps is web-based application that provides for web-enabled map creation. Google Maps includes a suite of supporting products including:
- Google Map API, which provides for embedding maps in web pages
- Google Mobile, which allows maps to run on mobile devices
- Google Transit, which provides information for public transportation routes
The Google Maps product itself is a website that allows users to map various locations, obtain directions, view georeferenced images, satellite imagery, roads, and other associated items like traffic conditions. You are also able to overlay a wide variety of georeferenced data layers on top of Google Maps such as mapping sites, displaying coverages, and photographs. A simple visualization can be accomplished by attaching a web-accessible KML file to the google maps URL with the href="q=http://web.accessible/file.kml construct.
Google Maps is a different product than Google Earth, which is a stand-alone application that users run from their desktop. KML files which are prepared with or for Google Earth do not always "behave" the same way in Google Maps.
There are many sources of example code for using the Google Maps API, making this a very approachable method for creating web pages with included maps. A license "key" is required for your web server.
If you intend on using Google Map products and are using it in a for-profit function, fees may apply for use of this product.